Carmel firefighters celebrate safe outcome of first activation of baby box


By Taylor Dixon

Carmel Fire Dept. Station 45 firefighters were able to put a weekly practice to the test April 5 when an alarm alerted them that an infant had been placed in the Safe Haven Baby Box.

The boy was the first baby to be placed in the box, which provides a place for parents or guardians who can’t care for a newborn to safely surrender the child, since its installation in December 2018.

CIC COM 0419 Baby Box surrender
A Safe Haven Baby Box was installed in December 2018 at Carmel Fire Dept. Station 45. (Photo courtesy of CFD)

While Dave Haboush, CFD fire chief, was not on duty when the baby was placed in the box, he is ecstatic that the system worked and that everyone is safe. He said the station runs weekly tests to ensure firefighters are prepared for the situation.

“We’ve practiced for it. We’ve trained for it and all of our firefighters did a wonderful job with the baby,” Haboush said.

After ensuring the baby was safe in an emergency room and in the care of Child Protective Services, the firefighters baked a birthday cake to celebrate their first Safe Haven baby.

“(The firefighters on duty) were celebrating, and we as an organization are celebrating the fact that this child is safe and that the baby’s healthy,” Haboush said. “We’re also celebrating the mother. That was a tremendous act of courage in order to be able to recognize that she was not able to care for the baby and to show a genuine act of love and making sure that this baby was taken care of.”

This marks the second infant to recently be placed in a Safe Haven Baby Box in Indiana. The other was a baby girl placed April 2 in a box at Franciscan Health Hospital in Hammond.

Seventeen babies have been surrendered at Safe Haven Baby Boxes across seven states since they were first installed in 2016. There are more than 100 baby boxes in Indiana.

Last year, Indiana lawmakers adjusted the Safe Haven laws to state that parents can now remain anonymous when calling 911 to give up custody of a baby as long as they wait for help to arrive. According to state law, a mother can surrender her baby up to 30 days after birth anonymously at a hospital, fire department or one of the baby boxes.